Politics Blog

Senate bill would look to install crude oil pipeline across Washington state

A state senator introduced a bill today that would require Washington to look at building pipeline to move crude oil through the state.

“We need to move oil across our state and there is a lot of concern about oil-by-rail,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, in an announcement Wednesday, Feb. 25. “It’s time to look at a trans-Washington oil pipeline.”

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would require a study of the safest pipeline route to the state’s oil refineries from the Midwest, e.g. the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana.

At a price of $250,000, the bill would direct the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to study where pipeline might be installed; which federal, state and local permits and approvals would be needed; make recommendations for streamlining permitting processes; and compare the benefits and costs, as well as safety, of various ways to move oil through the state.

The council would be required to work with the Department of Ecology, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state agencies, and could work with tribes, federal and local groups to finish the study.

As laid out in the bill, which declares an emergency so the bill would take effect immediately if passed, the study would be due to the Legislature and Governor by Dec. 1.

From Baumgartner’s announcement:

“Baumgartner’s proposal is prompted by the fast-rising shipments of oil by rail from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, and by recent derailments that have called attention to rail safety hazards. Washington considered and rejected similar transcontinental pipeline proposals in the ‘80s and ‘90s – the so-called “Northern Tier.” But those proposals envisioned the west-to-east shipping of Alaskan crude to the refineries of the Midwest, utilizing a terminal at Port Angeles and an underwater segment across Puget Sound. Baumgartner’s proposal does not prescribe a controversial route, and the oil would be traveling the opposite direction for different purposes.

‘This new oil boom in the Midwest is the best news we have heard in a long time for our economy and for our energy independence,’ said Baumgartner, who served as a State Department officer in Iraq before joining the Senate. ‘I’ve worked across the Middle East and in Russia and in Venezuela. I would much rather have a growing energy market here in the United States.

‘This bill is the start of a process to move the oil our economy depends on in a safe manner that would create tens of thousands of great family-wage jobs. An oil pipeline is a win-win for Washington.’”